1. BEARING THE CROSS
a. How did the people treat Jesus, the Saviour of the world? Mark 15:16–20.
b. Who carried the cross of Jesus? Verse 21. How significant was this act? Luke 14:27; Galatians 6:2.
“[Christ’s] persecutors saw that it was impossible for Him to carry His burden farther. They were puzzled to find anyone who would bear the humiliating load. The Jews themselves could not do this, because the defilement would prevent them from keeping the Passover. None even of the mob that followed Him would stoop to bear the cross.
“At this time a stranger, Simon a Cyrenian . . . meets the throng. He hears the taunts and ribaldry of the crowd. . . . He stops in astonishment at the scene; and as he expresses his compassion, they seize him and place the cross upon his shoulders.
“Simon had heard of Jesus. His sons were believers in the Saviour, but he himself was not a disciple. The bearing of the cross to Calvary was a blessing to Simon, and he was ever after grateful for this providence. It led him to take upon himself the cross of Christ from choice, and ever cheerfully stand beneath its burden.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 742.
2. JESUS FULFILLS PROPHECY
a. Who was crucified alongside Christ? How did this fulfill what had been foretold in Scripture? Mark 15:27, 28; Isaiah 53:12.
“With longing heart He has listened for some expression of faith from His disciples. He has heard only the mournful words, ‘We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.’ How grateful then to the Saviour was the utterance of faith and love from the dying thief! While the leading Jews deny Him, and even the disciples doubt His divinity, the poor thief, upon the brink of eternity, calls Jesus Lord. Many were ready to call Him Lord when He wrought miracles, and after He had risen from the grave; but none acknowledged Him as He hung dying upon the cross save the penitent thief who was saved at the eleventh hour. . . .
“The thieves crucified with Jesus were placed ‘on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.’ This was done by the direction of the priests and rulers. Christ’s position between the thieves was to indicate that He was the greatest criminal of the three. Thus was fulfilled the scripture, ‘He was numbered with the transgressors’ (Isaiah 53:12). But the full meaning of their act the priests did not see. As Jesus, crucified with the thieves, was placed ‘in the midst,’ so His cross was placed in the midst of a world lying in sin.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 750, 751.
“As man’s substitute and surety, the iniquity of men was laid upon Christ; He was counted a transgressor that He might redeem them from the curse of the law. . . . He, the sin-bearer, endures judicial punishment for iniquity and becomes sin itself for man.”—The Story of Redemption, p. 225.
b. What did they do with Christ’s garments when they crucified Him? How was this predicted by David? Mark 15:24; Psalm 22:18.
“Centuries before the crucifixion, the Saviour had foretold the treatment He was to receive. [Psalm 22:16–18, quoted.] The prophecy concerning His garments was carried out without counsel or interference from the friends or the enemies of the Crucified One. To the soldiers who had placed Him upon the cross, His clothing was given. Christ heard the men’s contention as they parted the garments among them. His tunic was woven throughout without seam, and they said, ‘Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be.’”—The Desire of Ages, p. 746.
3. JESUS’ LAST HOURS
a. How did nature respond to its King dying on the cross? Mark 15:33.
“Inanimate nature expressed a sympathy with its insulted and dying Author. The sun refused to look upon the awful scene. Its full, bright rays were illuminating the earth at midday, when suddenly it seemed to be blotted out. Complete darkness enveloped the cross and all the vicinity about, like a funeral pall. The darkness lasted three full hours. At the ninth hour the terrible darkness lifted from the people, but still wrapt the Saviour as in a mantle. The angry lightnings seemed to be hurled at Him as He hung upon the cross.”—The Story of Redemption, p. 226.
b. What other supernatural events took place when Jesus died? Verses 37, 38; Matthew 27:50–53.
“At the moment in which Christ died, there were priests ministering in the temple before the veil which separated the holy from the most holy place. Suddenly they felt the earth tremble beneath them, and the veil of the temple, a strong rich drapery that had been renewed yearly, was rent in twain from top to bottom by the same bloodless hand that wrote the words of doom upon the walls of Belshazzar’s palace.”—Ibid.
“The rending of the veil of the temple showed that the Jewish sacrifices and ordinances would no longer be received. The great Sacrifice had been offered and had been accepted, and the Holy Spirit which descended on the day of Pentecost carried the minds of the disciples from the earthly sanctuary to the heavenly, where Jesus had entered by His own blood, to shed upon His disciples the benefits of His atonement. But the Jews were left in total darkness. They lost all the light which they might have had upon the plan of salvation, and still trusted in their useless sacrifices and offerings. The heavenly sanctuary had taken the place of the earthly, yet they had no knowledge of the change. Therefore they could not be benefited by the mediation of Christ in the holy place.”—Early Writings, pp. 259, 260.
“When Jesus, as He hung upon the cross, cried out, ‘It is finished,’ the rocks rent, the earth shook, and some of the graves were opened.”—Ibid., p. 184.
4. HE IS RISEN!
a. Who came forward and offered an honorable burial for Jesus, and what did he do? Mark 15:43, 46; Matthew 27:59, 60.
“Even in death, Christ’s body was very precious to His disciples. They longed to give Him an honored burial, but knew not how to accomplish this. . . .
“In this emergency, Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus came to the help of the disciples. Both these men were members of the Sanhedrin, and were acquainted with Pilate. Both were men of wealth and influence. They were determined that the body of Jesus should have an honorable burial.
“Joseph went boldly to Pilate, and begged from him the body of Jesus. . . .
“The request of Joseph was granted. While John was troubled about the burial of his Master, Joseph returned with Pilate’s order for the body of Christ; and Nicodemus came bringing a costly mixture of myrrh and aloes, of about a hundred pounds’ weight, for His embalming. The most honored in all Jerusalem could not have been shown more respect in death. The disciples were astonished to see these wealthy rulers as much interested as they themselves in the burial of their Lord.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 772, 773.
b. Having rested on the Sabbath, who came very early to the grave on Sunday morning, and what did they find? Mark 16:1–6; Matthew 28:5, 6.
“As [the women] lingered about the place, suddenly they saw that they were not alone. A young man clothed in shining garments was sitting by the tomb. It was the angel who had rolled away the stone. He had taken the guise of humanity that he might not alarm these friends of Jesus. Yet about him the light of the heavenly glory was still shining, and the women were afraid. They turned to flee, but the angel’s words stayed their steps. ‘Fear not ye,’ he said; ‘for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.’”—Ibid., pp. 788, 789.
c. What were they to do next? How did they react? Mark 16:7, 8; Matthew 28:7, 8.
5. CHRIST EMPOWERS HIS FOLLOWERS
a. To whom did Jesus appear, and what was their reaction? Mark 16:9–14; Luke 24:13–15.
“As [Mary] turned from the sepulcher, she saw Jesus standing near, but knew Him not. He spoke to her tenderly, inquiring the cause of her sorrow and asking whom she was seeking. Supposing that He was the gardener, she begged Him, if He had borne away her Lord, to tell her where he had laid Him, that she might take Him away. Jesus spoke to her with His own heavenly voice, saying, ‘Mary!’ She was acquainted with the tones of that dear voice, and quickly answered, ‘Master!’ and in her joy was about to embrace Him; but Jesus said, ‘Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.’ Joyfully she hastened to the disciples with the good news. Jesus quickly ascended to His Father to hear from His lips that He accepted the sacrifice, and to receive all power in heaven and upon earth.”—Early Writings, p. 187.
b. What commission was given to Christ’s followers, and how did they respond? Verses 15–18, 20.
“Upon all the inhabitants of the earth, high and low, rich and poor, was the light of heaven to shine in clear, strong rays. The disciples were to be colaborers with their Redeemer in the work of saving the world.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 818.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How was the carrying of the cross a turning point in the life of Simon?
2. Why was Jesus placed between the thieves on the cross? How did this fulfill prophecy?
3. How did nature sympathize with its dying Author?
4. How did God provide for the burial of Jesus? Who came forward to help?
5. What was Jesus’ main concern after He arose from the dead?